From concrete jungle to a grassy pavilion

After more than two years of meetings and revisions, the Philadelphia Art Commission granted conceptual approval to an ambitious $50 million overhaul of Dilworth Plaza at City Hall that now includes a public art installation on the plaza’s north side.

The renovations will transform the area in front of City Hall from an uninviting stone platform with a series of dark corners to a grassy, open gathering place with clear lines of sight to underground transit.

With the newly expanded Convention Center opening one block north of City Hall tomorrow, the improvements aim to connect North Broad Street with the Avenue of the Arts to the south. It also seeks to attract out-of-town conventioneers who will see Dilworth Plaza from one of the many windows at the new center.

“The city is fully in support,” Commerce Director Alan Greenberger said at the meeting, noting that Mayor Michael Nutter will present the plan today as part of his budget address. “The MSP [Municipal Services Plaza] and Love Park are completely-to-a-little-bit failed public spaces that would benefit from one-by-one sequential renovations by different people, so plans do not include these spaces.”

Center City District President Paul Levy said “the building should be a connector, bringing together the offices, convention center and hotels,” adding that City Hall is currently a “passing-through space, not a destination.”

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